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The combination of exotic padouk with mahogany is very unusual, suggesting perhaps that the original owner had a colonial connection, or that the cabinet-maker had access to exotic timber. A further centre table of virtually identical size was formerly in the collection of the Earls of Bristol at Ickworth in Suffolk. All three tables are without doubt from the same workshop, and are possibly a set.

The Earls of Bristol travelled extensively around the world. Augustus Harvey, 3rd Earl of Bristol, (1724-1779) was an admiral in the English navy, whilst his brother Frederick (1730-1803) became Earl Bishop of Derry and spent most of his life travelling and amassing a vast collection of souvenirs and art, some of which were confiscated in Italy during the French occupation.

The current house at Ickworth was built for Frederick. Gillows of Lancaster numbered the Harvey family among their clients, and many pieces by Gillows are still in the collection at Ickworth today.

A closely related drawing for tables of this type by Gillows is preserved in the Westminster City Archives in London.

Literature: H. Avray Tipping, English Homes, Period VI, vol. 1, ‘Late Georgian, 1760-1820’, 1926, pp. 321-38.
Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, revised edition, 1954, vol. III, p. 195, fig. 9.
Geoffrey Beard and Judith Goodison, English Furniture 1500-1840, 1987, p. 52, illus. 3.
Lindsay Boynton, Gillow Furniture Designs 1760-1800, 1995, illus. 3.
Sotheby’s, ‘The East Wing, Ickworth, Suffolk’, 11-12 June 1996, pp. 10-16, lot 103.

Exhibitions:

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  • Provenance

    Probably Ickworth, Suffolk, England;
    Collection of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, New York, USA.


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